Gluten-free pumpkin cookies are light and cakey with a lovely pumpkin flavor. If you love chocolate chips or nuts, add them to the batter before baking.
Gluten-free pumpkin cookies are a nice way to enjoy a bite of fall flavors. When making these cookies, you’ll need two bowls. A small one for the dry ingredients and a mixing bowl for the batter.
Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cookies: Key Ingredients.
- Pumpkin Puree. The pumpkin flavor comes from a cup of pumpkin puree. Be sure to get canned pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling. The pie filling contains sugar and other ingredients that we don’t need in this recipe. If you have homemade pumpkin puree on hand, you can use it but the texture of the cookies might be different. When these cookies are made with homemade pumpkin puree, they can turn out too soft because homemade pumpkin puree tends to contain more water.
- Pumpkin Pie Spice. A blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice gives the cookies a lovely spicy flavor. If you don’t keep this blend in the house, you can replace it with ground cinnamon and ginger.
- Gluten-Free Flour. A gluten-free flour blend gives these cookies a cake-like texture. Look for a blend that contains xanthan or guar gum. It helps the cookies hold their shape during baking. If your blend doesn’t include it, whisk 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum into the flour blend before using.
Coconut and almond flours can’t be used in this recipe.
- Granulated Sugar. Since pumpkin and brown sugar go so well together, I first tested the recipe with brown sugar. While the cookies were delicious, the texture was a bit too moist, thanks to the molasses in the brown sugar. Granulated sugar gives these cookies a lovely sweetness and helps them to have a cake-like texture.
- Butter. Use room temperature (softened) butter in this recipe. If you’re dairy-free use a dairy-free butter meant for baking.
- Egg. One egg helps hold the batter together and creates a soft cookie. This recipe hasn’t been tested with an egg-replacer.
Flavor Boosters: Chocolate Chips and Chopped Nuts.
Both chocolate chips and chopped nuts are lovely additions to these cookies.
Chocolate chips: use up to two cups milk or dark chocolate chips or chunks.
Nuts. Add up two one cup chopped nuts. For the best flavor, toast them before adding them to the batter.
How to Toast Nuts.
Method One: Toasting Nuts in the Oven.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Place your nuts on a baking sheet. Don’t add oil.
- Toast for about six minutes. Nuts burn quickly. Be sure to use a timer.
- Remove the pan from the oven and place the nuts on a plate to cool before chopping.
Method Two: Toasting Nuts in a Skillet.
- Place the nuts in a large skillet. Don’t add oil.
- Heat over medium-high. Stir frequently.
- Cook for about three minutes. When you notice they become fragrant and darken slightly, remove them from the pan. Place on a plate to cool before chopping.
Steps for Success.
1. Heat the oven.
Before you start making the dough, turn on your oven. This gives the oven time to reach the right temperature. If the pan is put into a cold oven, the cookies can spread and come out thin.
It’s important that your oven runs at the right temperature. If you notice things bake too quickly or take too long, get an oven thermometer. Place it into your oven and see what it says. Then adjust your temperature setting to match. For example, if you set your oven to 350°F and the thermometer reads 300°F, adjust the temperature setting to 400°F for recipes that call for a 350°F oven.
2. Make the Batter.
This cookie dough is pretty easy to make. It’s a cross between a cake batter and cookie dough. Here’s how to make it.
First, whisk the gluten-free flour together with the pumpkin spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Do this in a small bowl. This mixes the small ingredients evenly throughout the gluten-free flour. So that they rise evenly and have the same amount of spice.
In another bowl, mix butter and sugar until it’s smooth and fluffy. After a minute or so, stop the mixer. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. A rubber spatula is the best tool for this step. When you do this, remove the thick layer of butter that’s clinging to the bowl. If that thick butter blends into the dough, it can make some of the cookies greasy.
Add the egg and vanilla extract. Blend this mixture until it’s fluffy. Then stop the mixer and add the pumpkin. Again, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
Finally, add the gluten-free flour mixture. Put it into the mixing bowl and then turn on the mixer. If you add it while the mixer is running, it can fly out of the bowl.
Mix until a smooth and thick dough forms. If you want to add chocolate chips or chopped nuts, add them now.
3. Prep the Pan and Scoop the Dough.
Line one or two baking sheets with parchment paper. Parchment keeps the cookies from sticking to the pan and makes clean-up easy. If you don’t have parchment, grease your cookie sheet lightly with nonstick cooking spray.
Drop the dough onto the prepared pan. I like to use a cookie scoop for this. It goes quick and all the cookies come out the same size. If you don’t own a cookie scoop, no problem. Drop the dough with a tablespoon onto the pan.
4. Bake and Cool.
A pan of these cookies takes about 15 minutes to bake. Look for them to be puffy and set. If they look soft and wet, bake for another few minutes.
Let the cookies cool on the pan for about three minutes. This helps them to set up so they don’t break when you transfer them to a wire rack. Use a metal spatula to transfer them to a wire cooling rack.
5. Finish with a Vanilla Glaze.
I like to finish these cookies with a simple vanilla glaze. It’s a snap to make. Just mix together powdered sugar, milk, and a little vanilla extract. The cookies need to cool completely before you glaze them or the glaze runs right off.
How to Store Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cookies.
These cookies keep on the counter for about four days. To keep them fresh, place the cooled cookies into a container with a tight-fitting lid.
How to Freeze.
The baked cookies freeze really well. I don’t recommend scooping the dough into balls and freezing. (That works with gluten-free chocolate chip cookie dough.)
- Let the cookies cool completely. Don’t freeze warm cookies. When you wrap warm cookies, it traps the steam. This makes the cookies gummy or crumbly when they thaw.
- Place in a freezer container. If you need to layer the cookies, stack them with a piece of parchment paper between the layers.
- Freeze for up to four months. When you’re ready to enjoy them, remove the cookies from the freezer and thaw them at room temperature.
Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cookies
Gluten-free pumpkin cookies are light and cakey with a lovely pumpkin flavor. Finish them with a drizzle of vanilla icing. So good. And so easy!
For the Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cookies
- 2 ½ cups gluten-free all-purpose flour (12 ½ ounces; 370 grams)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin spice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar (8 ¾ ounces; 248 grams)
- ½ cup butter, softened (4 ounces; 113 grams)
- 1 large egg (about 2 ounces; 56 grams out of shell)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup pumpkin puree (canned pumpkin) (8 ounces; 226 grams)
For the Vanilla Glaze
- 1 cup powdered sugar (4 ounces; 113 grams)
- 1 ½ tablespoons milk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Whisk together gluten-free flour, baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin spice, and salt in a small bowl.
In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until combined. Stop mixer and scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl. Mix for an additional 30 seconds.
Add the egg and vanilla. Mix on medium speed until light, about one minute.
Stop mixer. Add pumpkin puree and mix until combined. Add the gluten-free flour mixture and blend on medium-low speed until a batter forms.
Drop dough, about a tablespoon-each, onto prepared baking sheets.
Bake until set and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on the pan for about three minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.
Once cookies are cool, make the glaze.
Stir together powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla in a small bowl. If the glaze is too thick to drizzle over cookies, add ½ teaspoon additional milk. If the glaze is too thin (runny), add 1 tablespoon additional powdered sugar. Drizzle glaze over cookies.
Store cookies in an airtight container for up to four days or place in a freezer container and freeze for up to four months.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions.
Gluten-free All-Purpose Flour. This recipe was tested with Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Gluten-Free Baking Flour. Gluten-free flours vary by brand. For best results, use one that contains xanthan gum or whisk in a 1/2 teaspoon to the flour blend. Coconut and almond flours don’t work in this recipe.
Pumpkin Spice. Replace the pumpkin spice blend with 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger. For the best flavor, be sure your spices are fresh.
Salt. I bake with table salt. It dissolves best in batters and gives an even flavor. If using kosher or a flaky salt, increase the salt to 1 teaspoon.
Granulated Sugar. I recommended using granulated (white) sugar in this recipe. Sugar replacements give very different results. If you decide to use one, know that the cookies might not turn out.
Butter. Dairy-free butter sticks can be used in place of unsalted butter.
Egg. This recipe hasn’t been tested with an egg-replacer.
Vanilla extract. If you don’t have vanilla extract, simply omit it from the recipe.
Pumpkin Puree. Use canned pumpkin puree, not canned pumpkin pie filling.
Milk. The glaze calls for a little milk. Replace this with a dairy-free milk or water.